RIZIN has announced the first match-ups for its bantamweight GP in Japan.
Scheduled for July 30 at the Saitama Super Arena, the first round of the 135-pound tournament will feature Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Hideo Tokoro, Takafumi Otsuka vs. Anthony Birchak and Keita Ishibashi vs. Khalid Tara.
The bantamweight tournament will continue on Dec. 29 and 31, crowning the champion in the last day of the year.
Horiguchi (19-2), who left the UFC on a three-fight winning streak as a flyweight, impressed in his RIZIN debut with a decision victory over Yuki Montoya in a 125-pound bout in April. He now moves up in weight to face MMA veteran Tokoro (34-29-2), who made quick work of Edson Yamamoto last December.
The winner of Horiguchi vs. Tokoro will face a yet-to-be-announced opponent in the quarterfinal.
The second quarterfinal will feature the winners of Takafumi Otsuka vs. Anthony Birchak and Keita Ishibashi vs. Khalid Tara.
Otsuka (22-13-2) has fought the likes of Bibiano Fernandes, Rafael dos Anjos and Yoshiro Maeda during his 37-fight career, and enters the RIZIN ring for the first time to face Birchak (12-4). Birchak went 2-2 in the UFC with wins over Dileno Lopes and Joe Soto and lost to Tatsuya Kawajiri in his RIZIN debut.
Ishibashi (8-5-2), a former champion in Shooto who lost only one of his last 10 fights, gets his first opportunity under the RIZIN banner against Tara (10-0), who competes in Japan for the first time after finishing eight of his opponents in Germany and Netherlands.
The promotion has also announced three fights outside the bantamweight tournament, including a pair of women’s MMA bouts. Miyuu Yamamoto, the older sister of veteran Norifumi “Kid" Yamamoto, will meet Cassie Robb, while Reina Miura takes on Lei’D Tapa. In the men’s lightweight division, Satoru Kitaoka faces Yusuke Yachi.